In a previous blog post, we looked at all the benefits of meal planning and how it saves time and money. So how do you go about meal planning?
Step 1. Set aside one afternoon (or whatever suits) each week. I like to do it on the weekend either at midday when my youngest naps or after the kids have gone to bed at night.
Step 2. Sit down with a notebook or a notepad and a pen. Padtastic has a fantastic range of notebooks and notepads with some amazing designs which can all be personalised for you! There is no better feeling than hand-writing a list and this year I am meal planning in a notebook so that I can save all my weekly menu’s and repeat them when I am super-busy!
Step 3. Looking for inspiration for dinner ideas? Coles & Woolworths put out free magazines filled with recipes or a quick scroll through Google on websites such as Taste.com and Pinterest which provide many great dinner ideas. Or you could ask each member of your family for their favourite meal and incorporate that.
Step 4. Check out what meat or ingredients you already have in the freezer and pantry and try to use some of these - this will definitely save you money!
Step 5. If you know you have after-school commitments that run late one evening, opt for a quick & easy meal that night, or a slow-cooker meal like apricot chicken, or consider doubling the previous night’s dinner so that you can simply reheat on a hectic evening. This is where planning ahead is vital - you will be less stressed if you have a meal plan in place!
Step 6. Write out your shopping list. This year I’m also writing out my shopping list following my weekly meal plan in my notebook. Notebooks from Padtastic can be blank, lined, bullet-grids or a combination with a checklist. I’ve chosen a combination in my notebook, as the checklist is perfect as a shopping list and I love the lines for meal planning! Padtastic’s shopping lists are perfect for this as well as you’re able to rip off each sheet to take with you when you go shopping – these are only $8 and contain 50 sheets – enough for a year’s worth of shopping!
Step 7. Then go shopping! Stick to your list and you will no doubt save money not buying extra items!
If you are still finding it difficult to plan for each day, thematic meal planning (planning to a theme) might be for you! Follow a theme for each day of the week, so that the options (and therefore the thinking involved!) are reduced. For example:
Hopefully that has given you some ideas to get you started! Remember life is unpredictable and things change, but if you have the ingredients for 7 meals ready to go, you don’t have to worry about a last minute trip to the supermarket or the dreaded ‘what’s for dinner?’ question!
What meals are your go-to meals? Do you think you'll try meal planning? Let me know in the comments below!